Large and Unique Mass Transit Microgrid Moves Forward in New Jersey

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One of the largest microgrid projects in the country and one of the few proposed to support mass transit is moving forward in New Jersey.

On June 18, New Jersey Transit completed a public hearing for its NJ Transitgrid project. The comment period for the environmental impact statement for the project is open until July 19, 2019.

And on June 12, the Federal Transit Administration awarded NJ Transit $45.8 million for the project. Those funds are being matched with $15.2 million from the New Jersey Transportation Trust Fund Authority and will be used for the distributed generation portion of the NJ Transitgrid project.

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New Jersey mass transit facility in Hoboken. By Joe Benning/Shutterstock.com

The Federal Transit Administration grant is the first of $409 million of competitive resilience funds allocated to the NJ Transitgrid project under the Public Transportation Emergency Relief Program and the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013, which authorized $60 billion in funding for disaster relief agencies in the wake of Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

“This funding will move NJ TRANSIT toward self-sufficiency in the event of a disaster such as Superstorm Sandy where commercial power systems may be limited or unavailable,” Kevin Corbett, executive director of NJ Transit, said in a statement.

The distributed generation portion of the project includes the design and construction of electrical power systems at three bus garages, three transit stations and the Port Imperial Ferry Terminal.

The overall project calls for the installation of a 104-MW to 140-MW generating facility comprising five gas turbines and one steam turbine configured and operated in combined-cycle mode, as well as two black start reciprocating engines and a 0.6 MW solar panel array.

The preferred site for the main facility of the project is a tract of land known as the Koppers Koke site in Kearny in Hudson County.

The main purpose of the project is to generate enough power to energize the tracks and operating controls on portions of the NJ Transit and Amtrak rail system, specifically in the Northeast Corridor, the Morris & Essex line and the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail system. When the project is completed it will operate around the clock and would be available during emergencies when the surrounding grid is knocked out of service.

NJ Transit says the need for the project is based on the vulnerability of the commercial power grid that serves the Northeast corridor, which is used by more than 143,000 commuters on a daily basis.

Superstorm Sandy devastated some coastal areas of New Jersey and New York and began a push for an array or resiliency projects and microgrids that could serve as a bulwark against damages from future storms.

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